What is a talent community?
Talent Communities are a modern approach to the recruitment process. The latest iteration of many practices to effectively hire people for your organization. It is a candidate-centric model as opposed to vintage employer centric recruitment models. It involves creating an online space for,
- People who had previously applied for a position at your company, but were not selected due to various reasons. But have shown potential which may be put to good use at a later point of time, in some other position for the company, and
- Active job seekers who are interested in working for your company but who may not apply because of them feeling they are not ready yet.
It involves curating them as a group, educating them and acclimatizing them with the company culture so that when the next position opens up, you can pick the best fit from this group, without having to go through the traditional recruitment processes.
In theory and in practice, it reduces recruitment spending, time to hire, maximizes workplace fit and, and boosts the employer brand; all improvements over yesteryear methods.
Benefits of Talent communities
Reduced cost per hire
A full-blown recruitment drive is primarily expensive. The advertisement budget, reallocation of staff’s workload from revenue generation processes to planning the recruitment processes, expenditure on logistics, on-boarding, and prolonged post vacancies, all ultimately weigh down on the company's revenue. When we have a Talent Community in place, we already have-
- A direct communication channel with the candidates, which minimizes the advertising budget,
- Ready to join candidates, which brings down the time any post is left vacant, which is detrimental to the revenue, and
- Candidates are familiar with the company’s culture and practices, which can help shave off some weight on the on-boarding process.
Lower time to hire
Recruitment exercise requires planning. In an open market drive, you need to deploy the right advertisement strategy, which is a cumbersome process in itself; choosing the right media stream, content development, buying ad spaces and running a few marketing iterations to get the maximum reach. Once enough candidates have been reached, the recruitment processes have to be completed, post which is the evaluation time and release of offers, then the time is taken by candidates to finalize them, followed by the on-boarding process, only after which a candidate starts generating revenue for the company. This can take weeks or months depending on the scale.
Enter, Talent Communities. A Talent Community is basically a virtual room full of potential hires in your own building; willing to work for you and waiting to hear from you, minus the time you need to round up such people if they weren’t right inside your office. So it is more of matching the person with the role rather than finding new people for the role. It is easy to see the scale of time reduction achieved with a proper Talent Community in place.
People hate it when you don't reply; especially when they dress up for that interview and are left in the ‘we will get back to you’ land. It can be frustrating to not know what went wrong. Giving candidates feedback on their interview is an opportunity for branding that most companies miss out on. Be it an established company or a new start-up, when it gets back with feedback on the candidate's performance, it earns respect in the candidate's view.
And when you can invite a few of them to join a special talent community that you are curating for future hires, candidates are going to be thankful and are most often willing to put some extra effort into making it back again. This improves the public perception of the company by making people believe that the company actually values candidates who apply as more than just hires, that the company would be a place to learn rather than just to work, that there is no hiring bias and that the company as a whole is very approachable. All these in turn help attract better quality applicants.
Talent Communities are built on the concept of bettering candidate experience. For the first time in recruitment history, we have a reliable means of curating talent but most importantly, interacting with them and grooming them future recruitment. Inside the community, Candidates are encouraged to inquire openly of what is required of them, giving them more voice, feedback, and the opportunity to try again- an industry first. Any active job seeker can opt into the Talent Community, and see what the company has to offer for them. If they like it, they stay; otherwise, there is no obligation on their part to participate. Everyone loves a no strings attached resource channel and that is what a Talent Community is. The value proposition of a Talent Community is that it is a two-way communication model where both the candidates and the employers can act on each other’s requirements.
Higher offer acceptance rate
We have a mushrooming of talent-hungry companies, but unfortunately, the supply market for talented employees has not been growing at a commensurate pace. Presently, the cream of the active job seekers is spoilt for choice. Even though a company may make a good offer, there is always the possibility of the candidate turning down the offer for a better one. A turned down the offer is a waste of money spent on the individual's prospecting process.
But having a Talent Community removes a few key variables in the process. A Talent Community is an exclusive space where people have shown their interest in working for the company. Candidates are provided a transparent view of the work culture, and also direct contact with the employees. This provides a grounded picture of the employee experience, state of the company, and what they can expect a few years down the line; all variables which matter to any job seeker. Foreknowledge of all these factors brings down the offer declination rate significantly.
When a Talent Community can emulate an amicable working relationship with its members, the candidates start to see the company as a place to grow rather than just another job in the industry, boosting higher offer acceptance
Attracting passive candidates
Passive candidates are people who are happily employed and who are not actively looking for a job, as opposed to active job seekers. They are an asset to every company. In general, they are expected to have long tenures; rationalizing investment in their development.
They account for 70% of the global workforce, and recruiters are still figuring out ways to reach them effectively; enter Talent Communities again. Employee referrals are one of the best ways to reach Passive candidates and as discussed earlier, Talent Communities ace that. A meaningful introductory approach, followed by induction into the community, and proposed general and personal benefits of the job shift, should slowly overcome their resistance to stay put in that position.
More accurate measurement of candidate skills and abilities
This is perhaps the crux of the various advantages Talent Communities bring to the table. Once inside the community, candidates are given transparent information on the company’s day to day workings and expectations, access to workshops, and learning material so that willing candidates can build the right foundation to work for the company. Once the foundations are in place, the results of the exercise can be measured by administering work sample assessments that mirror on job tasks and quantify them as needed.
Building a talent community
Building a Talent Community is a multiyear project. We base the work on a minimum 2-year projection of the company’s proposed growth, which includes prospective clients, expansion to new markets, new departments, service integrations, and acquisitions/ mergers. Once the requirements are at hand we need to decide on the skill sets needed to fill in the posts and start seeding the Talent Community.
Seeding your community
This is the first place to start. If there happens to be a database of applicants from a past recruitment drive, it is beneficial to sift through them once again and reach out to potential candidates through mail/ or other channels. If there is a recruitment drive on the horizon, then plan to absorb potential candidates who do not exactly fit the job description but can be useful to the company otherwise and extend them an invitation to join the Talent Community.
Employee referrals are often a foolproof way of accessing high performing individuals. It is based on the principle that high performing employees know other high performing people. Also, when someone is vouched for, they are more driven to deliver value and uphold that recommendation. Having a pre-entry contact with candidates helps them form a broader network inside the company and become better integrated inside the organization, also laying road for informal knowledge transfer.
So, conduct an exercise within the company where each employee puts forth a number of referrals and invite them to join the company’s Talent Community.
It is important to decide on the persona of the people you want to have in your Talent Community and look out for them. Create an ideal imaginary persona, and take into account their interests, motivations, go-to problem-solving methodologies, etc. based on what is already working for the company in the form of present employees, and search relevant streams to connect to such people, like PyCon attendees, GDG developers, etc.
It is beneficial to target candidates with similar attributes to existing employees - they may be either demographic; same college, previous workplace, similar skill sets, etc., to capitalize on familiarity, or behavioral; Open source contributors, members of online developer communities like Stack Exchange, GitHub, Reddit Programming, etc.
Network effect and how to get it
Simply put, the Network effect is that the more people use a product, the more value it gains, like a cell phone. If only 100 people in the city have a cell phone, it's not of much value, but if a sizable chunk of the population is using it, then it has more shared value.
Network Effect is achieved when the growth of the community is based on offering utility rather than lucrative invites and proposed benefits. This equates to in-house promotions within the community through deals and offers, interning and freelancing opportunities, referral bonuses, etc. These when planned right is the biggest arsenal that the Talent Communities have in reaching potential out of sight candidates.
Moderators have to plan and execute a variety of regular updates to keep the candidates engaged. The success of a Talent Community depends on the return value it provides to the participants and the consequent growth of the group through first-hand information exchanges.
Types of content
Company updates are the bread and butter of Talent Communities. This enables a candidate to experience being in the company while being outside of it. Updates celebrating company/ employee achievements big or small are a regular feature. Updates for engaging candidates as interns or freelancers for short term projects can help them experience the company without long term commitment, and updates requiring referrals for vacancies, new departments, integrations, company expansion to a new place, etc. tend to have high response rates though Talent Communities.
Putting out accurate overviews of the industry is a subtle way of showing dominance; that the company acknowledges the market changes, is on top of it, and knows where it is heading. And this helps the employer brand in the eyes of candidates, even if the company is new on the market. Publishing industry salary trends, employee benefits, and other employee-centric metrics make a case for the company providing equal or better value for the employees among competitors.
A Talent Community needs to be a place where people can come in for some entertainment during their downtime as well. It is during those times that people are most open to suggestions, and the company has to play this right. When people are checking the group for something specific, they take little note of anything else, but when they are just looking to be entertained, the company ought to paint itself a nice picture, all the while providing some chuckles.
Indexing day to day industry information
It is important for the group to also act as an industry news outlet, posting responses to recent developments, scouring popular blogs like Android Weekly, Techcrunch, SitePoint, etc... (Depending on the community’s nature) and posting the best-performing articles frequently. The point is to act as a comprehensive single window for any and all industry updates.
Goodies - Avoiding stagnation
Promotions, gift cards, and coupons - anything of direct value to the candidates may be put out in a spaced manner to keep them engaged irrespective of whether they are taking in other information from the group. But the catch is to tie them up creatively with company deliverables, surveys, opinion polls, quizzes, etc. It is a creative's game.
Tools for building Talent Communities
Below are some of the different tools you can employ to start off a Talent Community. Each one has its own niches and target audience. Do experiment around with a few before finalizing.
Slack was born as a project management tool and works on the principle of collaborative teams. This has made it one of the most developer-friendly collaboration tools in the market. It is feature-rich and boasts of more than 1500 app integrations to accommodate most crowds. It can be a bit more on the expensive side with all the bells and whistles, but to manage the right teams, it is totally worth it.
Facebook was born as a social networking site, and it has garnered its strength through personal networks. With almost the entire connected world using Fb in one form or another, it has a huge advantage in terms of familiarity and ease of engagement, which may be easier for non-technical communities to navigate.
Google Hangouts Chat
This is Google’s reply to slack and a much younger application. This can be the easiest to work with for non-technical crowds, owing to its familiar and barebones UI/UX and easy integrations with all of Google. If video messaging plays a major role in candidate engagement, then this might be the best option.
Yammer is facebook, but just for your company. It is built to have its presence in both the internal organization and external networks making it ideal to maintain Talent Communities. This is a Microsoft product, so if your company is extensively integrated with Microsoft products, then this might be the go-to option.
If you need to make your Talent Community a very exclusive space and scale it likewise, Mattermost would be a good option. Mattermost came about as a self-hosting developer team chat app. It is more an enterprise-level application with tangible security benefits over Slack’s enterprise offering. A company might require this when it is handling sensitive information through its channels and when compliance and control of your data/information are key requirements as with consumer data.
It is hard to argue against investing in Talent Communities in today's market. They come with proprietary advantages and tangible benefits over former methods. Bottom-line, it reduces hiring cost and time, and provides well suited and groomed employees for your organization, all the while boosting the employer brand.
It is not hard to start a Talent community. Start a small online group with any of the tools mentioned; populate it with a few employees, their referrals and a handful of people from the last recruitment drive who didn't quite make it.
Get the content team to start a conversation, put out some news, some memes, and company updates. Outsource small works to the group, administer work sample assessments and see how it takes itself forward.